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Editorial Articles


Issue no 13, 24-30 June 2023

Right to Repair Initiative For Circular Economy

 

EN Team

Electronic waste (e-waste) is the waste that arises from end-of-life electronic products. It is the fastest growing waste stream in the world today. Growth of the Information and Communication Technology sector has enhanced the usage of electronic equipments exponentially and faster obsolescence and subsequent up-gradation of electronic products is resulting in accumulation of huge e-waste. This growing concern of e-waste mangement needs to be addressed systematically through policy and practice. If handled and disposed of in an irresponsible manner, e-waste can lead to extremely damaging impact on human health and the environment. India generates around 3.2 million tons per year of electronic waste which contains many precious materials like Gold, Palladium, Silver, etc., in addition to hazardous materials which can cause irreparable health hazards to human beings. In this context, development of environmentally benign processes to address those issues are of paramount importance. The Government has taken a number of steps to formalise the e-waste recycling sector of the country. The first regulation to manage e-waste in India was introduced in 2011 and became effective from 2012. The E-waste Rules have since been amended in 2016 and 2018. The E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016 provide for compulsory authorisation of the dismantling and recycling units from the concerned State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs)/ Pollution Control Committees (PCCs). CPCB has issued guidelines/SOP for processing of ewaste and necessary steps have been taken to mainstream and modernise the recycling industry with the help of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. There have been several further developments in the sector since the introduction of the Rules. And, in line with the LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment) movement launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to encourage sustainable consumption, the Department of Consumer Affairs under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution has taken a significant step for developing an overall framework for the 'Right to Repair' and has initiated the creation of a 'Right to Repair portal' to protect consumers and reduce e-waste.

What is Right to Repair?

The LiFE movement calls for mindful and deliberate utilisation which includes reusing and recycling various consumer products. Repairing is a critical function of all forms of re-use and even for the sustainable life of the products. A product that cannot be repaired or which falls under planned obsolescence, i.e. designing a product with an artificially limited useful life, not only becomes ewaste but also forces the consumers to buy new products instead of being able to reuse or repair them. Restricting the repair of products forces consumers to deliberately make a choice to purchase a new model of that product. The 'Right to Repair' for consumer goods refers to the concept of allowing end users, consumers as well as businesses, to repair devices they own or service without any manufacturer or technical restrictions. The rationale behind 'Right to Repair' is that when we buy a product, it is inherent that we must own it completely and that the consumers should be able to repair and modify the product with ease and at reasonable cost, without being captive to the whims of manufacturers for repairs. Considerable delay in repair, exorbitantly high price of repair, unavailability of spare etc. causes consumers great distress and harassment. The 'Right to Repair' framework set up by a committee under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs will give consumers a chance to repair their products at an optimal cost instead of buying new products altogether. The important sectors for the initial focus of the framework are farming equipment, mobile phones & tablets, consumer durables, automobiles & automobile equipment. Under this framework, it would be mandatory for manufacturers to share their product details with customers so that they can either repair themselves or by third parties, rather than only depending on original manufacturers. It will save consumers' money and contribute to circular economy objectives by improving the life span, maintenance, reuse, upgrade, recyclability, and waste handling of the appliances. The framework also aims to help harmonise the trade between the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), thirdparty buyers and sellers, thus also creating new jobs. It will also help reduce the vast mountain of e-waste that piles up each year on the continent and boost business for small repair shops, which forms an integral part of local economies. Once it is rolled out in India, it will become a game-changer both for the sustainability of the products and as well as serve as a catalyst for employment generation through Aatmanirbhar Bharat by allowing third-party repairs.

 

Right to Repair Portal

The Right to Repair Portal will provide consumers relevant information about product repair. The portal carries information for enabling consumers to selfrepair, knowing about authorised repairers and promoting third party repairers. It also provides warranty and post-sales information, provided by the consumer brands, to consumers in India. Presently, several OEMs have made available their repair manuals for the purpose. The endeavour is to create an ecosystem for availability of genuine spare parts for the duration of warranty promised by the manufacturer.

 

The portal is expected to address the concerns on the price, originality and warranty of spare parts. It will enable consumers to be better informed about the product by mentioning methods to check authenticity of spare parts and information on the country of origin. This portal will serve as a single platform to provide easy access to necessary information on repair and maintenance of products to consumers.

 

The Right to Repair Portal covers four sectors: Š

·         Farming Equipment: Tractor parts, harvesters and water pump motors.

·         Mobile and Electronics: Mobiles, tablets, wireless headphones & earbuds, laptops, universal charging ports/cables, batteries, servers & data storage devices, hardware & software and printers.Š

·         Consumer Durables: Water purifiers, washing machines, refrigerators, televisions, integrated/universal remote, dishwashers, microwaves, air conditioners, geysers, electric kettles, induction cooktops, mixer grinders and electric chimneys. Š

·         Automobile Equipment: Passenger vehicles, twowheelers, electric vehicles, three-wheelers and cars. The OEMs are expected to display the standards or hallmarking notified for the components on this portal. This portal also has a consolidated list of consumer care contact details of all major consumer products manufacturers for your quick viewing. The portal can be used to search companies by name or consumer product name. Links to the authorised service network of the brands and third-party service providers are also given on the website.

 

Right to Repair in Other Countries: France, in 2020, approved the 'Anti-waste Law' to combat waste and encourage a circular economy. The United Kingdom has also passed a law that includes all the electronic appliance manufacturers to provide the consumers with spare parts for getting the repair done either by themselves or by the local repair shops. Further, the European Union passed legislation that required manufacturers to supply parts of products to professional repairmen for a period of 10 years. The 'Fair Repair Act' in the United States that requires digital electronics manufacturers to make parts, tools, information, and software available to consumers and independent repair shops. Although there is no Right to Repair law in Australia, the country does have repair cafes. These cafes, which are typically held once a month, are free meeting places where volunteer repairmen gather to share their repairing skills and people can get their small electrical goods, bikes, clothing, small furniture or homewares fixed free-of-cost.

 

ERSO Pilot Initiative: In tandem with the Prime Minister's vision of a global circular economy, the Government is taking several significant initiatives, one of which has been the recent launch of the Electronics Repair Services Outsourcing (ERSO) Pilot initiative with a vision to make India the Repair Capital of the World. The project has been identified as a gamechanger for India and has been supported by the Government to make India a world leader in a hitherto untapped domain. The pilot project is being tried in Bengaluru and will be run for a period of three months. Five companies, namely Flex, Lenovo, CTDI, R-Logic, and Aforeserve have volunteered for this project. Post the pilot project, a detailed assessment will be carried out and modifications made in the process and policy as necessary.

The ERSO initiative will be a gamechanger for global environmental sustainability. It will enable extension of device life globally by providing cheap and reliable repair of ICT products for the globe. The ERSO initiative reiterates India's commitment to the environment and our planet. Over the next five years, India's ERSO industry is likely to fetch India upto $20 billion in revenue and also generate millions of jobs.

 

What is Mission LiFE ?

Mission LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment) is a public movement to mobilise individuals to become 'pro-planet people'. The LiFE Movement aims to utilise the power of collective action and nudge individuals across the world to undertake simple climatefriendly actions in their daily lives. Additionally, it also seeks to leverage the strength of social networks to influence social norms surrounding climate. The Mission plans to create and nurture a global network of individuals, namely 'Pro-Planet People' (P3), who will have a shared commitment to adopt and promote environmentally-friendly lifestyles. Through the P3 community, the Mission seeks to create an ecosystem that will reinforce and enable environmentally friendly behaviours to be self-sustainable. The Mission envisions replacing the prevalent 'use-anddispose' economy-governed by mindless and destructive consumption-with a circular economy, which would be defined by mindful and deliberate utilisation. LiFE seeks to create an ecosystem that will reinforce and enable environmentally friendly behaviours to be self-sustainable.

 

Source: righttorepairindia.gov.in/ PIB